Category: 10-by-10

September 9th, 2017 by Nancy Carpenter

10by10 reaches its conclusion as we have our final preview piece. Last, but certainly not least, is newly-promoted Cardiff Fire. Returning forward Sam Smith gives us his take on the season ahead.

This year is going to be an exciting and interesting season for us all at the Cardiff Fire. It will be our first in the all new 2nd tier of British Hockey which we are all looking forward to. However, this will present a considerable jump up from the NIHL 2 standard of which we have played since our inception.

I think we remain open minded as to what our expectations will be for this season. We will, at the very least, look to compete within this new set up although I think we would be kidding ourselves not to expect a few hiccups along the way. I imagine there will be a period of stabilisation for us, with guys on the team finding their feet and adjusting to the new level of play, for some this will be a lower level to what they’re used to and for others, this season will be their first taste of professional hockey. The same could also be said for the organisations within the league, for teams such as Swindon, Basingstoke, Peterborough etc. this will be a step-down and for others, such as ourselves, a BIG step up. So, the challenge and change will be felt both on the ice and off the ice. Cudd (Mark Cuddihy) has a history assembling tight-knit and arguably over achieving teams, and I see this season being no different. There is no doubt this season is going to be a big test and at times challenging for us all, but we are certainly looking forward to turning a few heads this year and setting a strong foundation for things to come from the Cardiff Fire.

One thing Cardiff does have on its side is a fantastic track record of producing good hockey players which will help aid our transition into the 2nd tier. We have been lucky enough to attract guys such as Devils legend Nicky Chinn, Alex Symonds and Callum Buglass back to Cardiff as well as having some fantastic youngsters coming through who will hopefully make some noise this coming season. I think bringing these guys back this season has been a testament to the work Mark Cuddihy has put in and shown his ambitions for the club. We have a real opportunity to add to the already thriving hockey scene here in Cardiff, which now offers hockey at every level available in UK ice hockey. The Devils are now one of if not the best club in the country and the partnership we have signed with them is fantastic and will present an incredible opportunity for kids to develop through our organisation and use the Fire as a key stepping stone in that development. The likes of Callum Buglass, Tamas Elias, Michael Stratford, Sam Bryant and Lewis Davies can look to use this platform and make that next step up into the Elite League. Having this clear path for progression will hopefully attract more exciting young players to our club. This makes it imperative to have experienced guys like Chinny, Mark Smith, Symo and Myersy who have been there and played at the UK’s highest level and can help, aid and enhance their development which will, in time, benefit us all.

Cudd has made some exciting additions and joining our club we have, firstly Nicky Chinn who needs no introduction. For Cudd to be able to bring Nicky in is a massive win for us even before we have stepped on the ice. He one of the best players to ever come out of British hockey and his name not only in Cardiff but across the country adds weight to any roster. Cardiff fans will love having Chinny back on his home town ice and the experience he will bring to our changing room will be invaluable! I grew up watching Chinny play, and it will be a real honour to lace them up with him this season.

Alex Symonds is another massive signing for us, Symo has Elite League experience and was arguably the best British defenceman in the EPL before he hung them up a few seasons ago. The hockey world is a better place with the Symonds family around, and we are over the moon to have Symo back playing hockey in Cardiff (I imagine his Mum, Donna is equally as excited as we are!). He is not only a great team guy but an excellent player who will eat up a lot of minutes for us on the back end this season.

Callum Buglass is another player who will surely be essential to our success. Callum is on a two-way with the Devils and returns to Cardiff following three seasons with the Swindon Wildcats as well as suiting up with the Devils for a few games. Although only 21, Callum has been around senior hockey for some time now and he will be a go to guy for us this season, and it will be great to see him develop and put himself in prime position for a full-time job with the Devils next season.

Cudd hasn’t forgotten that Cardiff fans love a scrap and brought in Brad Watchorn who is bound to be a fan favourite. I’ve heard this guy will fight anyone and anything and is pretty damn good at it as well. He is a professional MMA fighter, so I think it’s safe to say we are glad to have Brad on our team!

We also have Michael Stratford joining our team. I played with Mike when at Swindon and he was a great to have around and has a great attitude towards the game. He has come through the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Swindon, and he is a player who has enormous potential, he is big and skilful, and we are hoping he will make a significant impact on our club this season!

We have some great experience in net with Joe Myers, Luke Takel, James Whiting and newcomer Lewis Davies who I’ve only heard great things about, and again, is one to watch for the future. The addition of Mike Brabon to help with these guys not only completes a coaching staff many teams would dream off but gives our tendy’s the help and advice of an experienced goalie who again has Elite League level experience.

Off the ice Cudd has brought in Mark Smith who is a huge addition to our club! (shame he can’t play!!) Famous for blocking shots with his face, Smitty will bring so much experience and knowledge to our team, he has played in the ECHL, CHL, NCAA and EIHL so having him behind our bench will be a massive boost. Another exciting addition Cudd has made is Sam Motton from Xtreme Edges joining our coaching staff. Having Sam onboard will add an enormous up side to our program and having a full time skating coach is something not many teams in the UK can claim. Skating is such a big part of the game these days, and Sam is doing amazing things with Xtreme Edges, his knowledge and experience will only help us all develop and add to our games (Not too many bag skates though Sam…)

We have some great returnees and exciting young forwards. We are all very excited by having Tamas Elias back, he was second on our team in points last year and got better and better as the season progressed. I know Cudd, and the rest of the coaching staff will be expecting him to pick up where he left off from last season. Sam Bryant is another great young talent to come through the Cardiff Junior system and another guy who got better and better last season. He got a few games in the Elite League with the Manchester Storm last season, and he and Tamas are two guys who could potentially push for Elite League u23 spots in the next few seasons. Watch this space!!

We are all very excited to get things going and are hoping Cardiff hockey fans will get behind us and give us the support we need during our first season in this new look NIHL. We hope to see you all at IAW for our home opener against Invicta, September 16th!!

Posted in 10-by-10

September 8th, 2017 by Nancy Carpenter

Our penultimate 10by10 article this season looks at NIHL1 stalwart Milton Keynes Thunder, the only team to have never played in any other league! So it’s only fitting that we ask a long-time MK servant to tell us about them: step up Ross Bowers who has played 15 of his 16 senior seasons at his home club.

This season is going to be the biggest challenge in the history of the Milton Keynes Thunder. There is no doubt our squad has improved massively, but then so has the league. The collapse of the EPL brings the ‘big 4’ of Bracknell, Swindon, Basingstoke and Peterborough to the ENIHL. These teams will drive the quality of the league up and hopefully won’t flex their financial muscles too much and remember that the success of any league is down to the competitiveness of it.

I think Mk, London, Streatham, Invicta and Cardiff should be given a lot of respect for choosing to stay in the league and compete with the teams with bigger resources. Especially when dropping down to the league below and being a big fish in a small pond would have been a much easier ride.

The expectations of this season are quite simple from our point of view. We want to compete!! Every shift, every game. We clearly don’t have the depth in talent that some of the bigger teams have, but it doesn’t take talent to work hard and be hard to play against.

Coach Clifford has done a great job retaining a solid core of players from last years team and then added some real exciting players also. Tommy Annetts, Josh Crane and Mark Woolf are a great goaltending team.

Big Rupe Quiney and Lewy Christie will make our D a lot harder to beat.  Handisides and O’Flaherty add to our quality up front with Grant McPherson bringing a lot of leadership and experience along with his skill.

Two players to watch for the future are definitely Rio Grinell-Parke and Oliver Lord. I expect them both to have breakout years.

Our marquee signing this year would have to be Tom Carlon. The guy is a complete horse and dominates offensively.

One thing all these players have in common is they are all great guys to have on your team. From a personal point of view I would just like to help the team in anyway I can. Hopefully I can use my experience to give the younger players some help along the way too.

Manager Dave Fairhurst has worked so hard putting together this exciting squad, choosing to rely on home grown British talent only. I hope the amazing fans in MK will see this and really get behind us this season.

Milton Keynes opened their season with a challenge game against NIHL2 South’s Bristol Pitbulls in which they had a comfortable 13-1 win. Their league campaign starts this weekend with a home game against Bracknell Bees on Sunday 9th September followed by a trip to Invicta Dynamos on Sunday 10th September.

You’ll be able to find all the remaining articles in our 10by10 season previews (as they are released) together with all the previous seasons’ articles on the following link:

Posted in 10-by-10

September 7th, 2017 by Nancy Carpenter

10by10’s attention turns now to the last of the 4 ex-EPL teams: Bracknell Bees. Team captain Matt Foord gives us his thoughts on the season ahead at the Hive.

Coaching Change

With the upcoming season looming, we are looking forward to getting back on the ice. Bracknell have made some significant changes this summer, the biggest being the appointment of a new Head Coach, Scott Spearing. Scott is an experienced British player who has played for Slough and Bracknell in the EPL and has elite league experience with Basingstoke. He started playing hockey at Bracknell having worked his way up the junior ranks. He has been a member of the Bees for 8 seasons so he knows the set up extremely well, from the juniors up. He has a great hockey brain and will bring a fresh approach to coaching the Bees. He is a proven winner, with a positive mentality, and he will bring fresh ideas to the team. He has excellent man-management skills and will get the best out of every player this year.

The Team

We have made some notable signings this year. In my opinion, one of the most important is the re-signing of Alex Mettam, who has proved he is one of the best British goalies in recent times. He is a great team player and a solid leader. Backing Metsy up will be Danny Milton. Danny played for the Bracknell Hornets last season, a solid goalie who wants to learn. He’s a great guy and will fit in perfectly in the locker room.

The marque signings are Jan Bendik and Frankie Bakrlik. Jan played 4 seasons with the Bees and made a noticeable impact on and off the ice. He is a solid, dependable defender who adds offence, and offers a wealth of experience having played in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany. Frankie is one of the best players to play in the EPL, his size and skill making him a formidable force. He is a proven winner who will be vocal in the locker room. He too has a wealth of experience, having played in Poland, Czech Republic and North America.

Some important British signings are Shaun Thompson and Alex Barker. Thomo has played in both the EPL and Elite league, a solid two-way player that will add offence and leadership on and off the ice. His work with the junior players is exceptional. Alex was our top British scorer last year and he certainly knows where the net is. He has a great shot and always finds open space.

We have also added Calum Best and Steve Osman. Both Besty and Ozzy will add offence, giving Bracknell scoring chances and valuable experience throughout the line-up. Also new to the Hive are forwards Jared Lane and George Norcliffe. Jared played last season with the Guildford Flames, a great skater with a broad skill set. He will be an offensive threat and will certainly add speed to our line-up. George played last season with Streatham. He is a hard-working player and has a good hockey IQ. I think he will have a great season with the Bees and will add strength and depth to our team.

Retaining the services of both Harvey Stead and Josh Tetlow is a big boost for the Bees. Harvey really developed from playing big minutes last season and will be a solid dependable part of our defence. He is a smart player who can make big hits at the right times. Josh is on a two-way with Nottingham Panthers and that will benefit the Bees no end. He really came on last season having more responsibility. Now training and playing with the Panthers, he will add so much to his skill set and I believe he will become a very important player for the Bees.

James Galazzi has re-signed for his 8th season with the Bees. Gazza has been an integral part of the team for many years, and adds grit and toughness to our line-up. He works hard every shift, a solid two-way player that will chip in with big goals.

We have also added Josh Martin, Tom Avery and Luke Jackson. Tom and Josh have both played for Bracknell Bees and Bracknell Hornets. Josh will bring a lot of energy and has a solid skill set. He works hard every shift and is a great character in the locker room. Tom will add patience and skill to our defence. He is very composed on the puck and has great vision. Luke is a young player that has played junior ice hockey in North America. He is a solid defender that plays hard and can make a good first pass. His size and strength will make him a dependable player for the Bees next season.

Also joining the Bees are Ben and Josh Ealey-Newman, Will Stead and Jack Hayes on two-way deals with the Hornets. Ben and Josh have both played for the Bracknell juniors before moving over to Slough. Both are very skilled with a great work rate and are eager to learn. Will is a product of the Bracknell junior club and is a good two-way player who is a good listener and works hard whenever he’s on the ice. Jack will be familiar to Bees supporters, having played last season. He is a solid defender who works hard and is a great player to have on your team. He improved dramatically last season and will continue to develop into a good player this year getting regular ice with the Hornets as well as some games with the Bees.

Training Camp

We have been training for a few weeks and the mood in the camp is very positive. We all feel we have a good team and believe we can bring back a winning mentality to the Bracknell Bees. It always takes a few weeks to get the feel and timing back but we seem to have hit the ground running and the practices have been really positive. Franky and Jan are due in on Wednesday, so will only have one full practice before our pre-season games. However, given that they have played for Bracknell before, they should just slot right back in. It is always exciting to get back on the ice after the off season but this year there is a different kind of buzz. We’re all looking forward to getting the season underway and making a big push for silverware.

New League Structure

This year, a new league has been developed using teams from both the EPIHL and NIHL. It is exciting as we get to play unfamiliar teams and play at new rinks. It will also give the fans a look at the new teams and hopefully Bracknell can get back into the better half of the league. The fans at Bracknell have always been very loyal and have helped keep a team on the ice in recent years, so it will be good to reward them and hopefully bring some silverware back to the Hive.

I think the Bees will not have any problems adjusting to the new set up. We have a lot of experience up and down our line up and the transition will certainly be made easier with the new signings we have made, especially those that have played against the new teams we will be facing.

I think the new structure will work well, with a lot of teams having agreements with Elite League teams and with the import numbers being confined to just 2, it will be a good development league for young British players, able to gain valuable experience playing in all situations at a very good standard.

Bracknell Bees started their season with a double-header challenge series against Swindon Wildcats last weekend resulting in a 2-4 away loss and a 5-3 home win. Their league campaign kicks off on Saturday 9th September with a visit to Milton Keynes Thunder.

You’ll be able to find all the remaining articles in our 10by10 season previews (as they are released) together with all the previous seasons’ articles on the following link:

Posted in 10-by-10

September 6th, 2017 by Nancy Carpenter

We’re well past the hallway point in our season previews and now it’s time to take a look at Streatham IHC through the words of forward Jacob Ranson.

It’s a new coach, new beginnings and new challenges for Streatham this season.

Last season was full of ins and outs and upheaval for the South London club, with the arrival of Jeremy Cornish and plenty of players coming with him from the Island. This summer was no different, but coach Cornish has now built a hard working squad that suits his style of play.

Ins and Outs

This summer’s departures caused a lot of uproar around the club and the league, but sometimes things have to change to move forward. It’s sad to see the blood of Streatham move on and they’ll be missed. Leaving the club was the likes of Joe Johnston, Liam Rasmussen and Ryan Giles, who all retired from the sport at the end of the season, also fans’ favourite Jack Tarczycki, as well as Callum Best, Steve Fisher, long-serving Casmir Madren-Britton, George Norcliffe and Sean Scarborough.

For me one of the biggest losses will be the captain and club legend Joe Johnston, not only does he live and breathe the club, he’s a massive character and will be missed in the room. I was lucky enough to sit next to Joe for the last few months after I joined and his character definitely rubs off on everyone.

Looking past the departures the summer dealings have been extremely positive, with the club hanging onto a lot of the new recruits from last season, while adding nine new faces, many of whom have EPL experience. Keeping figures like speedster Joe Allen, Adam Wood and James Warman has kept some of the club’s history, while the core of Webby, Matty C, Cookie, Sampy, Rosey and I are all back on board from last season.

New faces we have to start with guys like Adam Carr, Michael Farn and Ryan Watt. All three have played in the EPL for years and have won plenty of championships and titles between them. The experience they have will prove to be crucial, that’s before even talking about what talented players they are.

Carrsy and Farn have been important figures for MK Lightning for years, while Watty has moved around a lot, but his character will be massive as he’s a bold one and I feel his bubbly ways were vital to Basingstoke winning the league when I was there on a two-way in 2016.

More familiar to the Cornish regime, both Ben Paytner and Brendan Baird have joined the club from Oxford City Stars. The pair has spent a few seasons under Jeremy and will now exactly what he wants which will make them slot straight into the fold.

Two more familiar faces to the coach are in the form of the Gregory brothers Jordan and Nathan, who both spent some time at the Isle of Wight, so they’ll be walking in a room with known surroundings.

Not forgetting NIHL all-star Aidan Doughty who joins from the Solent Devils, having spent time under Cornish and out in the states in the past, his presence and scoring will be huge for us.

The club has also brought in Brandon Miles from rivals London Raiders. Brandon is a tough kid who fears absolutely no one and he’s not only that he can play gritty and find the net as well.

Ones to watch

There could have been plenty of players to pick as ones to watch but I’ve gone more rogue than most would expect. Yes, guys like Carrsy, Farn and Watty are all going to be vital for us this season, but I feel it’s down to the guys who have been playing NIHL to step-up and support them.

One player in particular being free-scoring Aidan Doughty, I personally think he proved to everyone last year he was one of the best players in the NIHL, not only putting up big numbers, but grinding it out when times got tough at Solent. Aidan will be called upon for his production this season and I think he will prove his worth against every team.

Team feeling

Most NIHL teams are being realistic and know the EPL sides are all the favourites, after keeping hold of the core of their teams this off-season.  That being said, I don’t think it will stop the determination of our team.

Jeremy has built a gritty, hard-working, passionate team that will be determined every shift to beat whoever we may face. This team will have a lot of heart and we will try break teams down by out working them and staying disciplined.

I’m confident we can cause some upsets this season.

Streatham started their season last Sunday with a comfortable 12-0 home win against Lee Valley Lions. Their competitive season starts on Saturday 16th September when they will travel to London Raiders for a cup game before hosting newly promoted Cardiff Fire on Sunday 17th September

You’ll be able to find all the remaining articles in our 10by10 season previews (as they are released) together with all the previous seasons’ articles on the following link:

Posted in 10-by-10

September 5th, 2017 by Nancy Carpenter

10by10 moves on and we’ve reached the Swindon Wildcats. Returning forward Sam Bullas, back for his 9th season at the Link Centre, gives us his thoughts on his team-mates and the season ahead.

The feeling in camp is good at the moment, a few of the boys are down now and we’re still waiting for a few more to arrive. The local lads are altogether now and to start training properly again. A few of us gym together in the summer so we keep that connection going. Everyone seems really excited to get going.

The team is gelling really well so far. For the last few years we’ve kept a core of players and it’s really good to keep players you know and you’ve played with before. It makes the gelling process easier. Everyone is confident and excited to get going, we just want to get everyone down and hit the ground running.

We want to come top this year. In the past, we’ve always been a mid-table team but with the league structure changing we’re not looking anywhere else other than the top few places. Our eyes are on winning the league and we have to start the season with that motivation to allow us to start the season fast.

I hope the league structure is here to stay, it’s good for the younger players to get a step up. The EPL was getting to a level where, with the amount of imports, it was tough to get the young players spots. I’m a big believer in developing British talent, and whilst I’ll miss our imports, I think it’s great to give the young talent in Britain the chance to compete. I think it will be a good platform for everyone.

I think it’s going to be interesting to see how the Wildcats adapt. I loved playing in the old ENL when I was younger and had a great time in Nottingham, I’m excited to be playing new teams and visiting new rinks that I’ve not played in before. I just think the team need to take it one game at a time, we’re unsure as to what level it will be. I think the other teams have signed good teams and I think it will be competitive from game one. We’ve just got to go in from the start and take every game as it comes.

We’ve obviously added Renny Marr this year, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Renny. I don’t know him personally that well but I’ve played against his brother for the last couple of seasons and if he’s good as his brother then we’re very lucky. He’s been away training in North America, including being on the ice with some NHL players so he’ll be as ready to go as anyone this season.

We’ve also got Chris Jones coming back from Cardiff. I’ve played with Chris before in Swindon and we got on really well, I’m excited he’s coming back to the Wildcats for next season. He’s been away in the EIHL with Cardiff and it’ll be good to bring him back and see how his game has developed since he was last here.

Sam Zajac is an excellent player, and someone I’ve had a lot of great battles with in the corners over the years. I get on with him well and he’s the kind of guy I hated to play against so I’m thrilled he’s on my team for this season, it’ll be good to not have to worry about him as an opponent this season.

I was happy to see Joseph Hazeldine come down from Nottingham has well this year, coming from Nottingham myself it’s good to see more of us down in Swindon. From the video, I’ve been watching of him he looks to be a very good player. He looks like he can move well and has a great natural talent.

I think this year we have a good mix of young guys with experienced guys. We’ve got Aaron Nell, Neil Liddiard, Phil Hill to name just three will really help bring these guys through. They’ll have so much to learn from especially with Jan Kostal and Max Birbraer around the team too. If I’m still learning after 9 years here, the youngsters on the team will really benefit from their experience.

I think it’s going to be a strange year, I think imports will stand out. I think the British players will be the key, I think we’ve really improved our defence this year so it promises to be a good D core in front of both Renny and Matt Smital next year. I think the young lads will have the good seasons which may go overlooked. People look at achievements through points but it’s performances we worry about not points. The young lads will be able to step up and make a name for themselves and the likes of Ollie Stone and Ben Nethersell will really step up this year.

Two-way deals will help them all too, the experience of training with some of the best players in the country will massively help them. I think they can get some much out of it with training every day and it’s only going to make them better. The more ice time they get, the better they become and that only bodes well for the Wildcats.

I get asked about personal ambitions every year, but honestly, I don’t have any. I just want the team to win something. I think we’ve signed a very good team and my ambitions match those of Aaron. I want to contribute to the team but if I didn’t get a point all season and we lifted a trophy I’d be the happiest man around. Hopefully this will be year we do that.

Swindon Wildcats season started with a double-header challenge series against Bracknell Bees last weekend, which they won 4-2 at home before losing 3-5 away.  They will play a second challenge series against Peterborough Phantoms next weekend, home on Saturday 9th and away on Sunday 10th September. Their league season kicks of on Saturday 16th September when they will host MK Thunder.

You’ll be able to find all the remaining articles in our 10by10 season previews (as they are released) together with all the previous seasons’ articles on the following link:

Posted in 10-by-10

September 4th, 2017 by Nancy Carpenter

4th out of the hat for our 10by10 season gives us a look at last season’s NIHL1 playoff champions: Invicta Dynamos. Defenceman Tommy Ralph give us his thoughts on the upcoming season.

This off-season has resulted in a lot of changes to the league structure with the absorption of 4 ex EPIHL teams, who I would like to first welcome to the NIHL and express to the readers that here at Invicta we are relishing the step up in competition and the new challenges it will bring.

As always there have been departures and also some new faces for our club prior to the first puck drop this season. One new addition I’m sure the fans at Invicta are eager to see is my fellow Hullensian Bobby Chamberlain. Bobby will bring top quality and experience to our forward contingent and I expect him to be one of the top Brits in the league by some margin. Having played a season together in the Elite league with Hull and playing juniors together from a very young age I know very well what he’s capable of doing for this club and I’m delighted that Kevin managed to get him to sign with us this year.

In addition to Bobby we are able to welcome more new faces to Invicta this season. George Hoang, Ryan Morgan, Brandon Webster, Sebastian Downing and Louis Colvin are talented young players with a lot of potential and I expect them to really break through this season with the opportunity they have been given to play in the NIHL top tier. They’re in a good position to learn from experienced and established players and I look forward to seeing the players they can all become over the course of the season.

As with every year we have had players depart, I’d like to wish all our departures the best of luck at their new clubs. The most important thing for us at Invicta is to have a dressing room full of guys who want to be here representing Kent and wearing the Dynamos logo across their chest and I believe that is exactly what we have got this season.

We are lucky enough to welcome back two excellent imports and all round great guys in Adam Rehak and Ondrej Zosiak who I believe will once again stand out as top end players in the new league. In addition to this we have maintained the services of Callum Fowler, Scott Bailey, Mason Webster, Arran Strawson and most importantly Damien King (to name a few) that will give us a solid core of players to help the new faces settle in easily this season. Kinger will be massive for us between the pipes and I expect him to demonstrate why he’s been such a highly rated goalie for so long once again. With Bobby, Adam, Scott and Callum we have four guys who can put the puck in the net for fun to build our offense around and theirs not many teams in the league than can boast four better forwards than that.

As a team we will need to be a close group and out-work our opposition every game for 60 minutes. We need to play a disciplined game, have 5 guys been defensively responsible on the ice and not just 2, keep an even keel at all times and improve every day. With our blend of youth, talent and experience there is no reason we cant be competing to be the best of the old NIHL teams and even competing with the ex EPIHL teams. Confidence will be the key so at all times we must play with confidence and who knows what we could achieve this season. The Silverblades in Gillingham has always been a fortress for us with us rarely tasting defeat at home so we will aim to keep that streak going despite the new competition this year. We’re the defending playoff champions and wont roll over and have our bellies rubbed, if teams beat us they’re going to have worked for it and feel it for a few days after, we love blue collar hockey and that wont change.

I’d like to end by saying a massive well done to Head Coach Kevin Parrish, Jackie and Andy Mason and everyone else involved at the club for not running from the competition and working their bags off to put a team out in the new league format. Their work can often go unnoticed and unappreciated but as somebody on the inside and seeing how much effort they put into this great club I’m proud to be a part of it. Lastly, to the fans, we can’t wait to get back out on the ice in front of you, we always pack the barn out and theirs no reason we cant have the house rocking every game this year again. Best fans in the league and always will be.

Invicta Dynamos start their league campaign on Saturday 9th September when they travel to Basingstoke Bison before hosting MK Thunder on Sunday 10th September.

You’ll be able to find all the remaining articles in our 10by10 season previews (as they are released) together with all the previous seasons’ articles on the following link:


Posted in 10-by-10

September 3rd, 2017 by Nancy Carpenter

London - Euan King10by10 continues with a look at one of our more established NIHL1 sides. There have been some big changes at London Raiders over the summer and their netminder Euan King gives us his thoughts on the season to come.

Well here we are one season away from a shiny new arena back home in Romford and we have a new look team being built to go with that. There is a great buzz around the team, management and fans at the moment which is great to see. The owners and committee that run the club need a massive pat on the back for getting the club to this point where they can lose a rink, be forced to play away from their home town, low attendances in the early days etc. but they have managed to keep the team afloat and (to a point) competitive over these years. They deserve some silverware for  their hard work and dedication  and if the league structure hadn’t changed we would have been one of the front runners. But, I am getting ahead of myself there so lets a look at the new London Raiders.


London - coachesThe Dream Team: Herb and Craig, Bombay & Conway, Easton & Blythy or just Sean and Alan – whatever you want to call them the team has an extremely strong coaching line up for the new season. Between them they may only have one head of hair (sorry guys couldn’t resist) but their knowledge of the game is exceptional and I am very much looking forward to seeing how they set us up to be competitive against the “EPL” teams.

Sean is extremely ambitious when it comes to his coaching career and he has high aspirations to test himself at the highest level. This is a great chance for him to show his coaching skills without having that tag “I could have won with that team” that overshadowed his tenure in Chelmsford.


I have obviously returned for the new season and I am excited to get going, the club is on the up and we have some massive challenges ahead of us. On a personal level, I have always felt I could hold my own in the EPL if that chance ever came up, now I won’t have to wonder anymore and it’s time to see if my confidence is actually real.

We also have young Zach Grandy-Smith joining the roster this season. Zach is a big kid at around 6”2/3 and fills a lot of net. I have worked with Zach previously when he came to a camp I was working at so I know him and what skills he brings to the table. Make no mistake Zach is a talented young goalie who will push me every week for game time which is perfect.


The Old

London - Julian SmithAndy Munroe – Munsy is a goalies dream, he blocks shots, battles in the corners, positionally sound and a good puck moving D man. Munsy may look like Mr Burns but he is as tough and solid as they come. Munsy will be key for us and is great head for the youngsters to learn from as he leads by example in the locker room and on the ice.

Julian Smith – My other travel partner who a natural born leader. Solid at the back, tough and willing to fight if he has too. Jules will openly admit that he isn’t the most natural talented with the puck on his stick but he gets the job done every shift.

John Connolly – JC is the most naturally talented D man on the roster, he moves the puck well, great dish man on the PP and a good skater. JC will probably openly admit he struggled last season with his fitness and injuries but after a good off season I expect JC to return to the old JC, playing with confidence and putting up points.

Jack Cooper – Solid stay at home defencemen, plays the game simple and doesn’t try to do too much. Coops will play a key role for us this season I’m sure of it. I will just try not to hit him in the head with a puck in training this season!

Callum Burnett – Young Cal is back and will be on a two way this season to maximise his ice time. In the short time he was with us last season he impressed me with his willingness to learn and improve. He is in a great spot this season and working with Sean and Alan. One for the future.

The New

London - Sean BarrySean Barry – Baz is a shorter version of Munsy, no frills d man who makes simple but effective plays in his own zone. Last season he seemed to add something new to his game and was jumping into rushes going forward. I’d expect to see that continue this season.

Callum Wells – Callum is another steady D man, he carries a decent shot on him and is a good puck mover. He has worked with Sean for a very long time and I would expect to see him continue his development as the season progresses.


(WOW we have a lot!!!)

The Old

Marek Nahlik – The solvak sniper lit the league up in my first few weeks back in London scoring something silly like 12 goals in 3 games. His form dipped at the end of the season due to injury but showed great character to battle through in the play offs. If confident I would expect Marek to be up there in the team scoring charts

London - JJ PitchleyJJ Pitchley – The enigma!! JJ has so much talent its silly but he has to stay focused on the game and not get involved in the silly side of things. JJ can be unplayable at times and I hope he channels that side of his game this season. There is no reason JJ couldn’t put up 40-50 points if he remains focused on the game. This is a big season for him.

London - Ziggy BeesleyZiggy Beesley – The pocket rocket! Ziggy works his socks off every shift and will be a thorn in the side of a lot of defencemen this season. Points will come for Ziggy as long as he continues to play his game and not let it get to him. Great kid too, eager to learn. He just needs to get a job now!

London - Tom DavisTommy Davis – The captain of the ship, Tommy has been with the team for a very long time and it will be his reasonability that the new guys coming in understand the traditions of the club and what is expected of them. Tommy openly admits his favourite time playing has been in a grinder role and he will revert back to this this season which he will relish. Expect to see Tommy leading from the front.

Sammy Roberts – The ultimate team guy, great in the room and play for the pure love and enjoyment of the game. Sammy has a canon and will surprise a few goalies this season I’m sure. I would expect Sammy to be used a shutdown role this season which he will excel at.

Alan Lack – The Jack Russell, fast, aggressive, agitator and a leader in the room. Lacky is the perfect guy to have on a team as he hates losing and will hold people accountable. Every team needs an Alan Lack.

The New

London - Jake SylvesterJake Sylvester – Jake had a break out season last year and I couldn’t be happy to have him on our team this season as it means he isn’t scoring on me!! Natural goal scorer who reads the game exceptional well and is usually one step ahead of the play. He can’t have #92 though!

Ollie Baldock – So laid back he is horizontal, skilled and a great set up man. Ollie and Jake have played together for a long time and have a great connection which we will hopefully see again this season. He knows where the net it too!

Matt Turner – By far the most underrated player I have ever played with, an unreal two way centre man. Turner should have been playing in the EPL for the last 4 or 5 seasons he is that good. His hands are unreal and another leader on and off the ice.

Brandon Ayliffe – I tell you what, I have never seen a kids be sick in training before on a back checking drill because he works that hard. That’s Brandon down to a tee. Hard working, finished his checks and has speed to burn. Brandon is a great addition to our roster.

London - Olegs LascenkoOlegs Lascenko – All I will say about Oleg is Beast!! Check out his Instagram and see how seriously he takes him fitness and hockey. Great additional to our team.

Import – TBD but I would expect an out and out goal scorer.

Stealth Promotion or the same NIHL?

So the new league structure. Is it still the NIHL or was it a stealth promotion for teams who didn’t want to move up to the EPL? I can see both side of the coins here but I am personally relishing the challenge. I preferred the conference system (although the split wasn’t exactly even) we had originally as I thought that was a really good move but obvious that quickly fell apart.

How will it pan out… I think we will know more on that after the first month of the season when we have had some “EPL vs NIHL” games. My hope if that the old can compete with the new but I’m not sure if that is more optimism? One thing is for sure, there are a lot of players in the old NIHL who have thought they could do a job or compete in the EPL, now we are going to find out.

Regarding the Raiders, we haven’t set any officially targets for the season yet and you should go into every game with the mentality to win it. Sean and Alan have built a team with speed and grit, added first and secondary goal scoring and a great blend of youth and experience. There is already a real buzz amongst the boys in the WhatsApp groups.

Realistically, we should be aiming to win our mini league first amongst the old NIHL teams then review. I’m optimistic we will be competitive in the league.

I said it at the time when the restructure news first came out, “sit tight people the merry-go-around that is British hockey is about to begin”. Enjoy the new NIHL and hopefully an exciting season of hockey.

London Raiders have no games on the opening weekend of the season. They start  with a home game in the cup competition against Streatham IHC on Saturday 16th September followed by a visit to Milton Keynes Thunder on Sunday 17th September to kick off their league campaign.

You’ll be able to find all the remaining articles in our 10by10 season previews (as they are released) together with all the previous seasons’ articles on the following link:

Posted in 10-by-10

September 2nd, 2017 by Nancy Carpenter

Peterborough - Scott RobsonSecond out of the hat for the NIHL1 season previews is Peterborough Phantoms. Returning defenceman Scott Robson gives us his take on the upcoming season and the team they have put together.

To the fans of the South NIHL1. The season is finally here!

It feels so long ago when the announcement came about the disbanding of the EPL and a lot of fans, players and probably owners started panicking asking themselves ‘what’s next’?

I think we as players this summer, especially those of us who played in the EPL/NIHL previously, have been put in the unknown regarding what the future of second tier standard was going to be like. Nobody telling us what’s happening with the structure of the league, nobody telling us if our respected teams was committing into a similar league format.. It was honestly very weird.. Guys was signing for teams under the basis of not knowing what was actually going to happen, not knowing what sort of teams was still going to actually put out a team. Peterborough - Slava KoulikovNow that it’s settled down and we have something concrete to go by, obviously things are on the up for British hockey now and everybody knows what’s going on. I think it’s fair to say everyone’s excited by it and intrigued as to what the season will bring. Whether it lasts one season or more in this format? Who knows.

My hopes for my team the Phantoms are the same as all my teammates, management, owners and our fans: to Win. There are four trophies to challenge for this year, and I’m confident in saying that we will be in the mix and competing for all trophies. Peterborough was always looked at as a underdog in the EPL especially since I moved here 3 seasons ago, but now after the collapse of that league, and teams like Guildford an MK moving up to Elite league, it opens the door for us and the likes of Swindon an Bracknell to be at the top end of the league table along with Basingstoke.

Peterborough - Ed KnaggsWe have a exciting team, just like we’ve had in the past. Of our new additions, I think the likes of Salem, Jamieson, Billing and Knaggs will all make a impact in the games in their own way. We will still be able to play a very entertaining for the fans of all teams to watch, we will play as a fast, direct, energy team. And we will make it a place that teams don’t want to come to, which I’ve found is usually the case especially over the past few years.

Peterborough - Darius PliskauskasI think our imports are the best in the league hands down, Darius (Pliskauskas) and Padi (Ales Padelek) have it all and tons of high level experience, they also definitely put our average age on our team up which helps (as two of only 3 over 30’s on the team). Peterborough - Ales PadelekNo doubt they will have there own individual goals aligned with our team goals to make our season a huge success. They both know how to score as well as anyone and both put in 100% for the team every night.

We have a very strong team of core guys who have been on the team through thick and thin. They know what it takes to win no matter what circumstances arise, which I think is crucial especially coming into such a unknown season like this one.

Peterborough - Dan LaneOur goalie Adam Long will be relied upon to be our number 1 this year and I think he is more than ready for it: ready to step up and do what’s required to compete in every game and even steal us a few games here and there. he’s prepared well this summer, so for sure he will have a breakout year.

We also have a number of young guys once again who will look to break into big minute roles on our team, so they will have to take there chance when the opportunity is given. It’s going to be pretty exciting, seeing who’s going to surprise and step up for the team.

As a newcomer to the majority of the teams in the South NIHL, I don’t really know what to expect in regards to the new players, teams and rinks. I guess dipping a little into the unknown makes it exciting and especially not knowing what sort of standard it’s going to be as well! Should be interesting… I’m sure all the former southern NIHL teams will all go out to prove a point against us and the other old EPL teams and they’ll want to show they deserve to be in the same league as us and not to be looked over by any means.

Peterborough - celebrateI’ve heard teams like Cardiff Fire and Streatham IHC should be pretty hard and exciting games as they both have new arenas and they have signed a few ex EPL players so I’m pretty excited for those games (although maybe not so much the 5hour journey to an from Cardiff on a Sunday Night!). Obviously for me, the match ups against Hull (in the NIHL1 Cup) will be good fun as well as it’s a former team of mine and a lot of old friends still play there so those will probably be the games I look forward to the most.

As we edge closer to the season, more and more of the boys from the local area in an around Peterborough have been getting together once or twice a week to skate and scrimmage and that has been a lot of fun, Our sessions have a few players who are now in Elite League teams  and some of the South NIHL 2 players as well so it’s a good mix. We’ve even had few guys like Will Weldon an Greg Pick came down to a few of the summer skates which surprised a lot of guys because usually they are dedicated to their locals instead of the rink in summertime 😉

A lot of us have spoke in depth upon preparation for the season and everyone’s excited for first game and to finally get going an to play against the new teams in the new league structure. They are a few guys who have circled off the free weekends an the one game weekends (a rarity for the ex-EPL teams) already for various reason. I won’t name their names but I’m sure you can figure that bit out!

Scott Robson #11

Peterborough Phantoms start their 2017-18 campaign with 2 sets of challenges (away/home to Basingstoke Bison on 2-3 Sept and away/home to Swindon Wildcats on 9-10 Sept). Their first competitive game will see them hosting Bracknell Bees in a league game on Saturday 16th Sept.

You’ll be able to find all the remaining articles in our 10by10 season previews (as they are released) together with all the previous seasons’ articles on the following link:

Posted in 10-by-10

September 1st, 2017 by Nancy Carpenter

Basingstoke - DanWellerEvans10by10 starts this season’s NIHL1 preview with the of the overall highest placed EIHA team last season (i.e. 3rd in EPL): Basingstoke Bison. NM Dan Weller-Evans takes a look at the Bison squad and gives us his take on the upcoming season.

I think this season is going to be a really exciting one, not just for the Bison but for the league in general. Change is never an easy thing but now that the dust is starting to settle on the whole situation I think people are starting to get excited about the upcoming year. It will be nice to see some new teams as well as some teams most of us have played (for and against) and building new rivalries. Personally I have always believed that the NIHL offers good quality hockey and I can only see this improving this year. I think that the new league structure may take a year or two to settle down, but I think this could be a good thing for British hockey and it will be good to see more juniors be able to step into senior hockey, whether that’s training with their senior team or getting the chance to play games.

At the Bison our goal is obviously to be in contention for every trophy on offer. That was always our goal when we were in the EPL and it won’t be any different this year. I think Doug Basingstoke - Celebrations(Sheppard) has done a great job in keeping most of the players we have had over the last few years as well as bringing in some very good new players and some that have previously played for the team or have friends in the team to help the bedding in process. Most of us have been on the ice together a couple of times a week for a while now so we are all familiar with one another and we are really excited to get going now. We have a great mix of youth and experience and even guys on our team that are under 25 still have a lot of both NIHL and EPL experience. As I said before I think Doug has put together a team that will challenge for every trophy, We know that’s what he sets out to do every summer and its something the Bison have always done since he arrived back in Basingstoke 5 or so years ago. We have managed to keep the majority of our core players and I think that speaks volumes about the club and about Shep as a coach. It’s no secret that the facilities we have in Basingstoke aren’t the best, but players still want to either stay or play in Basingstoke year after year. We have always been a very tight group both on and off the ice and I think that’s a massive factor of the success the Bison have had over the last few seasons.

Basingstoke - Dean SkinnsIn goal we lost Tomas Hiadlovsky who will be a big loss but we have brought back Dean Skinns, a Basingstoke born goalie who has had massive success throughout his career and I know he will want to do the same again this year. He has won pretty much everything there is to win in the EPL and he will be a very important player for this year. As for myself I’m hoping to push all the way this year and try and earn as many games as possible,  I want to help the team in any way, hopefully in lots of games, but if I’m on the bench then I will be supporting Dean and the boys in any way I can.

Basingstoke - Kurt ReynoldsWe managed to keep 4 of the 5 man D core we had last year. We lost Dec Balmer to the Elite League and we are excited to see how he gets on in Manchester. We have Joe Baird, one of our ‘A’s, a veteran in our team: a solid defenceman and someone who will always tell the boys exactly how it is in the room. Stuart Mogg is someone who has got better year after year since switching to defence, he made the EPL all star team in his first full season on D and I can’t see any reason why he wont improve again this year. We also have Kurt Reynolds, the team barber, back for his 10th straight year with the Bison (keep an eye out for his testimonial date). It’s no secret Kurt is always a standout player for the Bison, I remember watching Kurt in his first year when the Bison were in the Elite League as a 14 year old fan!

Basingstoke - Dan ScottOnto the first member of the ‘Kent Massive’: Dan Scott. Scotty joined us mid way through last season and its like he’s been here for years. He has all the boys in stitches in the room and it’s hard to keep a straight face sitting next to him, but when its time to go he’s always ready and was solid for us in the second half of last season. Finally we have the only ‘new’ member of our D core, Elliott Dewey. Dewey is no stranger to the NIHL and came on leaps and bounds with Invicta. We are happy he’s come back to Basingstoke and he will be a very important player for us this year. He has played for the Bison before so knows what to expect.

We lost a few forwards over the summer, the 3 imports: Derek (Roehl), Joe (Rand) and Rene (Jarolin), Joe Miller and Ciaran Long who has joined Dec up in Manchester with the Storm.

Basingstoke - Ashley JacksonFirstly let’s take a look at the new boys to the team… We have signed Josh Smith from Bracknell, someone who isn’t afraid to go into the gritty areas and can also score points. Ryan Sutton has come back after a year in Canada and he will be looking at putting points on the board. Onto the other 2 members of the ‘Kent Massive’: we have 3 time Olympian Ashley Jackson join us this year, we are very excited to have him on the team, someone who has played sport at the highest level possible as well as putting up serious points in the NIHL.

Basingstoke - Aaron ConnollyReturning for us is our leader and captain Aaron Connolly. A born leader, he is the heartbeat of our club and will always get the best out of the boys. He’s always lead from the front and there’s no doubt he will do that again this year. Tomas Karpov is also back this season, our other alternate captain and our top player and point scorer. I think being able to bring in Karps again this season says so much about our club, no doubt he will score points this year and will lead our offence.

Grant Rounding is someone who has had a big battle with injuries but again is someone who I think will put up points this year for us, potentially the fastest player I have ever Basingstoke - Vanya Antanovplayed with. We played together on the Island in the NIHL as well as here in Basingstoke. He flies past players when he takes off! Another huge signing is Vanya Antanov, someone who I would think would always be in high demand and there is no doubt he is a special player. He had a great first year for us last year and he will be looking to build on that this year.

Danny Davies is someone who I think is the most under rated player on our team. He is solid on the puck, has great hands and can score goals. I think he will be a standout player for us this year. He never has a game off and chips in in every possible way. Another player of ours who’s contribution sometimes goes unnoticed is Dan Lackey, another forward who is almost impossible to knock off the puck along the boards and will do anything he is asked to do. I think he will put up more points this year than the last couple of seasons.

Finally Jaro Cesky is back with the Bison after a few years away. He is played In the NIHL for the last few seasons and he is an instant fit in the room. His numbers speak for themselves and I’m sure he will be another leader for us this year in terms of scoring points.

Basingstoke - Hallam WilsonWe also have two players on two way contracts with us, Hallam Wilson and Paul Petts. Hallam played in Oxford last year and had a successful year, I’ve known Hallam since he was about 5 years old so its great to get to play on the same team as him this year. Pettsy has also played in the NIHL with the Solent Devils and the Basingstoke Buffalo. He is another player that can do a bit of everything offensively and we are looking forward to seeing that this year.

Okay, ramble over! As I said before we are really excited for the new challenge. Hopefully we will see lots of you in Basingstoke for a few games this year!

Enjoy the season!

Basingstoke Bison start their season with a home/away double-header challenge series with Peterborough Phantoms on 2/3 September.  Their competitive season starts the following weekend as they host Invicta Dynamos in the league on Saturday 9th, then travel to Telford for a cup game on Sunday 10th.

You’ll be able to find all the remaining articles in our 10by10 season previews (as they are released) together with all the previous seasons’ articles on the following link:

Posted in 10-by-10

August 31st, 2017 by Nancy Carpenter

Part 2 of our 10by10 season preview of the NIHL2 teams takes a look at the remaining 7 teams in the league.

Guest writers Laurence Thorn and Don McDermott take a look at the what we know so far about each team.

Invicta Mustangs

Invicta MustangsInvicta head into the new season looking to improve on a third-place finish in South 2 East, and although they did not add any notable players, they secured the returns of their top playmakers and promoted several talented youth club players to the team.

Goalkeepers John Abbott and Matthew Passmore, who split time between the posts last season, both return, with Abbott bringing his .917 save percentage. The league’s joint leading goalscorer from last season, Jake Luton will continue to ice for the Mustangs, after notching 20 goals in 18 games. Invicta are also bolstered by the commitment of captain Tom Dennis, who in addition to leading the team and providing excellent defense, picked up 25 points last season. Former captain Michael Stokes has also signed on for another season after a good year in the stats column.

Several players from the Invicta Colts also will feature in the squad. Forward Jake Stedman returns after splitting time for the past three seasons with the Colts in the England u18 league and the Mustangs in South 2. Stedman scored six goals for the Mustangs last season while scoring 32 points as captain of the Colts. His Colts teammate James Laming, who also played for both teams last season, remains on as part of both teams for the upcoming campaign.

The youth of Stedman and Laming is tempered with the addition of 30-year-old forward Bradley Gutridge, who drops down from Invicta Dynamos of South 1. Another notable returnee is Lucy Gruber, a former GB u18 forward who is back for her fifth season and is now the only woman playing outfield in NIHL South.

Invicta Mustangs kick off their season on Saturday 16th September when they will host league champions Peterborough Phantoms NIHL2 side.

Lee Valley Lions

Lee Valley LionsAfter making positive steps forward under head coach George Alley last season, the Lee Valley Lions will hope that a settled squad can work to their benefit this campaign.

Netminder James Andrew – voted the club’s most improved player of the season last time out – returns, as does club stalwart James Joseph on the blueline. Seven of last season’s top ten points scorers are also back, with captain and main scoring threat Nick Alley leading the side once again after tallying 26 points in 17 league games last campaign.

Returning forwards Ross Sin-Hidge, Chris Fox and Simon Geldart all passed the 10-point mark last season, as did defenceman Simon Jones who is also back. Former Haringey forward Lee Hounslow joined during the last campaign and impressed, while another former Haringey man, Matt Brown, is one of the few additions to the line-up. Am exciting addition is GB Women’s international netminder Robyn Maby, back at the Den after eight seasons away.

With South 2 becoming deeper and more competitive this season, it remains to be seen where Lee Valley’s largely unchanged line-up will end up in the pecking order. A top ten finish would be a good achievement for one of the league’s perennial underdogs.

Lee Valley Lions have a pre-season game away at NIHL1 side Streatham IHC on Sunday 3rd September and start their league campaign 2 weeks later when they visit Haringey Huskies on Saturday 16th September.

Oxford City Stars

OxfordCityStarsThe Oxford City Stars last played in South 2 back in 2013/14, when they won the league and took promotion. After three years of improvement in South 1, the league restructuring sees them return to South 2 with a strong looking squad.

Netminder Mark Duffy moved over from the Bracknell Hornets last season, and continues in the Oxford net this time around. He’ll be joined between the pipes by another former Bracknell Hornet in the shape of Hungary’s Milan Ronai. The blueline looks strong, with man mountain Dominic Hopkins dropping down a league with the team, as does veteran Andy Cox. Alex Staples from the Chelmsford Chieftains and Stewart Tait from the London Raiders could be two key additions.

Up front, club veterans Joe Edwards, “Mr Oxford” Darren Elliott, Josh Florey and Michael Whillock are joined by new import Kamil Kinkor, recovered from a broken leg sustained last season, and Conor Redmond, who will hope for a more settled campaign after playing for three different South 1 sides last time out.

With a solid blueline, proven goalscorers up front and a dangerous import – provided that he is fully recovered from injury – the Stars should be in the mix for the South 2 title this campaign.

Oxford City Stars start their season with a visit to NIHL newcomers Guildford Phoenix on Saturday 16th September.

Peterborough Phantoms 2

PeterboroughPhantomsAfter completing the ‘Treble’ of League, Cup and Playoffs last season, the Peterborough Phantoms 2 – previously Islanders – looked all set to take promotion to NIHL South 1. But after the league restructuring, the Phantoms 1 (formerly in the EPL) now find themselves in South 1; while Phantoms 2 remain in South 2.

The core of last season’s dominant side – who did not lose a single league game all of last season – remains, led by netminder Dan Lane who will also get opportunities to ‘play up’ for Phantoms 1 this season. The blueline looks solid with the return of veterans Jonathan Brammall, Connor Hunter, Craig Wallis and captain Robert McDonald, alongside talented youngsters Nathan Long and Callum Medcalf.

Up front, Peterborough retain eleven of their twelve top scoring forwards from the last campaign. The Pollard brothers, Nathan and Conor, will continue to terrorise South 2 defences, as will the likes of Connor Stokes, Clint Herring, Shaun Yardley, James Pentecost, Kenny Bavin and Bradley Moore.

With a very settled side, the Phantoms look to be among the favourites in the league this season; but much will depend on how they measure up against the four sides dropping down from the league above. If they can match up well against those teams – more silverware could be on the cards.

Peterborough Phantoms will start their defence of the league title with a visit to Invicta Mustangs on Saturday 16th September.

Slough Jets

Slough JetsAfter winning the wooden spoon in last season’s campaign, Slough Jets signified their intent to return to relevance by signing right winger Lukas Smital to be their head coach, junior coach and international player. The Czech winger, who has spent much of his playing career in the second tiers of ice hockey in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and scored 34 points for the Bracknell Bees last season, has been preaching an “exciting” brand of ice hockey since taking over the reins in early June.

To back up the talk, the Jets have re-signed goalkeeper Chris Douglas, last season’s leading point scorer Nathan Darmanin, young defenseman Chris Beal and forward Jack Lee, who joined the Jets midway through last season. The talented Timo Lindgren, who only played nine games last season but scored eight goals, will be back for his seventh senior season at Montem Lane. Slough also have announced the additions of forward Kurt Tyrrell from Wightlink Buccaneers, towering d-man Jack Standing from Basingstoke Buffalo and Bracknell youth player Ben Eastwood, while Liam Underdown returns to the club of his youth after a season away with Bracknell Hornets.

The Jets will continue to play out of their temporary home, Silverblades Ice Arena, as their usual arena has been undergoing renovations since late 2016. Slough are hopeful that they will be back in The Hangar for the end of the season, but regardless of whether or not that happens, they will at least have home ice for the entire campaign, unlike much of last season.

Slough Jets’ campaign will start on Saturday 16th September when they visit Bristol Pitbulls.

Solent Devils

SolentDevilsAfter five seasons of punching above their weight in South 1, the club from the south coast drops down a division this season following the league restructuring. With a largely unchanged roster, they will look to challenge for a top four spot in the new South 2.

Star netminder Christian “Chico” Cole stays with the Devils after backstopping them in all five of their South 1 campaigns (apart from a brief spell at the Wightlink Raiders). The blueline in front of him also looks solid, with veterans Ben Lock, Mason Wild and club captain Alex Cole joined by former Wightlink players Kieran Annis and Andrew McCloskey.

Up front, player-coach Alex Murray will continue to lead the side both on and off the ice, and Canadian import Drew Campbell is back for another season. Also returning are Richard Facey, Mark Pitts, Alexander Trendall and Sam Rudkin, as well as youngsters Perry Stewart and Rhys McCormick who split their time between senior and junior hockey last campaign. Christopher Hocquigny also joins from Slough after already playing two games for the Devils last season.

While they were always underdogs in South 1, the Devils should be among the front runners in South 2, with a place in the top four – and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs – probably a realistic aim.

Solent Devils kick off their season with a visit to visit to Basingstoke Buffalo on Sunday 10th September.

Swindon Wildcats 2

SwindonWildcatsFor many years, Swindon Wildcats 2 have acted as an affiliate of the senior Wildcats, and have played a key role in bringing through many young talents and giving them their first taste of senior hockey. That will continue this season with the senior Wildcats side now in South 1 and Wildcats 2 remaining in South 2.

Precious little is known about the roster for this season at the time of writing; in previous seasons it has been a mix of young players from the Swindon-based Okanagan Hockey Academy (OHA), and more senior Swindon-based players. Blueline veteran Daniel Sullivan is confirmed as player coach, while we can perhaps expect club stalwarts like Lee Beardsmore and the Coakley brothers Adam and Andrew to return, along with some young defensive talent from the OHA such as Deakan Fielder, Joshua Kelly and Harvey Robson – all of whom made their senior debuts last campaign.

Up front, we can perhaps expect a mix of veterans – such as Stuart Widdows, Luke Merrick and last season’s captain Loris Taylor – and OHA graduates such as Michael Power, who scored 16 points in just six league games last season in South 2 and also made one EPL appearance for the EPL Wildcats.

Until we know the Wildcats roster, it is hard to predict where they may end up. With the team’s main goal being to bring young players through and prepare them for the senior team, a mid-table finish is probably a realistic aim.

Swindon Wildcats’ season will start with a visit to Haringey on Saturday 30th September.

Tomorrow we start taking a closer look at NIHL1 South. We’ll have a team a day for the next 9 days – with previews written by players from each team.

You’ll be able to find Part 1 of this article and all the remaining articles in our 10by10 season previews (as they are released) together with all the previous seasons’ articles on the following link:

Posted in 10-by-10